End Of Life Dementia Care And Covid
Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Older adults also have the highest rates of dementia. Given the risks that older adults face from both COVID-19 and dementia, its important to understand how to protect yourself and your loved one. Find more information about dementia and COVID-19 from the CDC.
When a dementia like Alzheimers disease is first diagnosed, if everyone understands that there is no cure, then plans for the end of life can be made before thinking and speaking abilities fail and the person with Alzheimers can no longer legally complete documents like advance directives.
End-of-life care decisions are more complicated for caregivers if the dying person has not expressed the kind of care he or she would prefer. Someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimers disease might not be able to imagine the later stages of the disease.
The Alzheimers And Dementia Care Journey
Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But youre not alone. In the United States, there are more than 16 million people caring for someone with dementia, and many millions more around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers or dementia, it is often your caregiving and support that makes the biggest difference to your loved ones quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.
However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved ones cognitive, physical, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, its easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout. And nearly all Alzheimers or dementia caregivers at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury its a necessity.
Just as each individual with Alzheimers disease or dementia progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can aid you as a caregiver and help make your caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging.
Affordable Online Therapy for Caregiving Support
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For Families Speaking To Patients
Education is key. Educate yourself first. By now, youve probably done some research on this website. It might also be helpful for you to learn some common misconceptions about end-of-life care, as your loved one may be misinformed about the realities of hospice. View our video on dispelling hospice myths. Read and share “Considering Hospice: A Discussion Guide for Families” at HospiceCanHelp.com
Ask permission. Asking permission to discuss a difficult topic assures your loved one that you will respect his or her wishes and honor them. Say something like, I would like to talk about how we can continue to ensure you get the very best care and attention as your condition progresses. Is that okay?
Determine what is important to your loved one. Ask him or her to consider the future: What are you hoping for in the coming months, weeks or days? What are you most concerned about? The patient might express a desire to be comfortable, to stay at home or to not become a burden.
Discuss hospice care as a means of fulfilling the patients wishes. Now that your loved one has told you what is important to him or her, explain that hospice is a way of making sure wishes and desires are met. For some, the word hospice evokes a false notion of giving up. Explain that hospice is not about surrendering to disease or death. It is about bringing quality of life to the patients remaining months, weeks or days.
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Do Not Get Angry Or Upset
When looking after persons with dementia, practicing self-control is of utter importance. Learn how to breathe in and just relax without taking things personally or getting angry and upset. Remember that dementia patients do not act the way they do out of their own accord. It is the illness that makes them behave the way they do.
Dont Just Talk Loudly
Not every person with dementia has a hearing impairment, and using a loud tone can make them feel like you are yelling at them. Use a clear, normal tone of voice to start a conversation with someone.
If the person doesnt respond or you become aware that they have a hearing problem, you can increase your volume. Speaking in a slightly lower register can also help if someone has a hearing problem.
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Do Not Keep Correcting The Patient
People with dementia do not like it when someone keeps correcting them every time they say something that may not be right. It makes them feel bad about themselves and can make them drift out of the conversation. Discussions should be humorous and light and one should always speak slowly and clearly using simple and short sentences to capture and keep the interest of the dementia patients.
Understanding And Supporting A Person With Dementia
This page can help you understand what a person with dementia is going through in order to give them the help and support they need to live well.
Understanding and supporting someone with dementia
Living with dementia can have a big emotional, social, psychological and practical impact on a person. Many people with dementia describe these impacts as a series of losses and adjusting to them is challenging.
This page aims to give people – and carers in particular – a better understanding of what it is like to have dementia. It looks at ways to support someone to live well with the condition, based on that understanding. It also looks at how supporting someone with dementia can affect carers.
Press the orange play button to hear an audio version of this page:
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Activities To Do Around The House
- Make a memory book look through old pictures together and create a scrapbook.
- Water house and garden plants.
- Listen to their favorite music.
- Watch their favorite show or movie.
- Do an arts and craft project such as painting or drawing.
- Knit or crochet together.
- Cuddle, feed, or brush a household pet.
- Present an instrument the person used to play such as a piano or guitar. Play, whistle, or sing along.
- Sweep or vacuum.
Learn more about activity planning for people with Alzheimers.
For Patients Speaking To Families
Education is key. Educate yourself first. By now, youve probably done some research on this website. It might also be helpful for you to learn some common misconceptions about end-of-life care, as your family may be misinformed about the realities of hospice. View our video on dispelling hospice myths. Read and share “Considering Hospice: A Discussion Guide for Families” at HospiceCanHelp.com
Determine what your loved ones know. Before bringing up hospice, make sure your loved ones have a clear understanding of your health status. People handle difficult information in different ways. If family members are not accepting or understanding of your prognosis, you might want to have your physician, clergy or a trusted friend speak with them on your behalf.
Discuss your goals for the future, as well as theirs. As a patient, your greatest concern might be to live without pain, or to stay at home, or to not become a burden. Ask your loved ones what their concerns are when they consider the coming months, weeks and days. Explain that hospice is not giving up. It is an active choice to ensure that everyones needs are met.
Take initiative. Remember, its up to you to express your wishes. Sometimes, out of concern for your feelings, your family or loved ones might be reluctant to raise the issue of hospice for you.
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Activities For Dementia Patients: 50 Tips And Ideas To Keep Patients With Dementia Engaged
The prevalence of Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia is on the rise, yet the cost of dementia care options continues to grow. For many, family caregiving becomes the most practical and cost-effective solution, at least for a time. Keeping dementia patients actively engaged in everyday activities and cognitively challenging tasks is beneficial for both body and mind and, in some cases, it can even slow the progression of the disease. Staying active and engaged can help to reduce dementia sleep problems, as well.
Weve put together a list of 50 tips and ideas for keeping dementia patients active and engaged through everyday activities, outings, cognitively challenging tasks, and social and emotional activities, many of which can be used throughout most of the stages of dementia. Youll also find a few helpful tips for selecting activities that are appropriate based on the patients interests, abilities, and other considerations.
Preserving Your Loved Ones Independence
Take steps to slow the progression of symptoms. While treatments are available for some symptoms, lifestyle changes can also be effective weapons in slowing down the diseases progression. Exercising, eating and sleeping well, managing stress, and staying mentally and socially active are among the steps that can improve brain health and slow the process of deterioration. Making healthy lifestyle changes alongside your loved one can also help protect your own health and counter the stress of caregiving.
Help with short-term memory loss. In the early stages, your loved one may need prompts or reminders to help them remember appointments, recall words or names, keep track of medications, or manage bills and money, for example. To help your loved one maintain their independence, instead of simply taking over every task yourself, try to work together as a partnership. Let your loved one indicate when they want help remembering a word, for example, or agree to check their calculations before paying bills. Encourage them to use a notebook or smartphone to create reminders to keep on hand.
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Dos And Donts When Dealing With Dementia
Contributed by Christine BinneyDementia is a general term used to describe a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to impair a persons ability to perform everyday activities. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimers disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all cases. Common symptoms of dementia are problems with short-term memory and the ability to concentrate, with symptoms usually progressing rapidly over time.
Understanding how to care for someone with dementia can be difficult for anyone. You are exploring uncharted territory with your friend or loved one. It can be a scary and confusing time for both of you. To make the journey a bit less stressful, follow these dos and donts when dealing with dementia.RelationshipDo come to terms with the fact that your relationship with the dementia patient is going to change over time.
Dont bombard someone who is dealing with dementia by providing a long list of all the tasks that they have floundered with. Dont question their ability to handle a situation outright or else theyll become embarrassed and frustrated which will put them on the defensive.
Dont engage in an argument or be contradictory. Dont correct everything a dementia patient says to you, as the accuracy of the information is not as important as the thought or feeling they are trying to convey. Dont forget that this aggressive behavior is not deliberate, but is often just a symptom of the dementia.
The Importance Of A Daily Routine For Dementia Patients
One of the main things people fear when they receive a diagnosis of Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia is the inevitable loss of independence and control over their world. If youre caring for a person with dementia, daily routine is one of the most useful tools you can use.
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Do Not Try To Stop A Person Who Wants To Leave A Room
Staying in one place for long periods may result in behavior problems in the dementia patient. It is essential to have a safe environment where they can enjoy the outdoors without any problem. When someone tries to leave a room, do not force them to stop. Doing this may result in an extreme reaction such as severe distress or injuries.
Instead, it is best to accompany the patient so that they are safe. You can even suggest going for a drive around the block so that they can experience a new environment for a short period. If they do not want company, just let them go but stay close by to make sure that the patient is safe at all times.
Social And Emotional Activities
Engaging people with dementia in regular physical, social, and emotional activities is a promising strategy for keeping the condition at bay. The activities you choose should result in lifestyle change and long-term activity participation.
- Reading with or to them
- Going on a short outing in nature
- Baking something or cooking meals together
- Watching a movie, TV show, or family videos together
- Sing their favorites songs as a group
- Go to museums and festivals as a group
- Make a memory box with other members of the family
- Have them tell stories or read books out loud
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Safe And Happy At Home
Of the 5.2 million people in the United States who have Alzheimersdisease and other types ofdementia, 70 percent remain at home, an option thats been shown to keep peoplehealthier and happier and help them live longer. And with the averagenursing home running $50,000 a year or more, home care can be much moreaffordable than rehab facilities, nursing homes andassisted livingresidences.
But cheaper certainly doesnt mean easiercaregivingoften falls on the shoulders of family members and friends. And thosewell-meaning folks can burn out without the proper support, warnexperts.
The care of dementia is actually the care of two people: the person withthe illness and the person taking care of him, says Johns Hopkins expertDeirdre Johnston, M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O., M.R.C.Psych. But when Johnston and a team of researchers studied more than 250Baltimore residents with dementia as well as their caregivers, they found astaggering 97 percent to 99 percent of both groups had unmet needs.
Keeping your loved one safe and happy at home can seem overwhelming. Butdont lose heart: Plenty of help is out there, for your loved one and you. Here are some tips that may help:
How To Handle A Combative Dementia Patient
There are many challenges involved in caring for a patient with dementia. At times these patients may become combative. This is a regular aspect of the disease and may happen even in patients who were not aggressive earlier in their lives.
How do you deal with combative dementia patients?
I work as a pharmacist in a geriatric psychiatric unit. We care for these patients when caregivers are unable to. Our goal is to stabilize them and return them into the community.
This post will give you pointers on what to do when faced with aggression from a dementia patient.
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How Do You Write A Good Care Plan
Every care plan should include:
Get Toy Versions Of Their Old Pets
For those patients with Alzheimers who have lost their pets, getting a toy version of that pet can be very therapeutic. It allows them to still have that companionship they miss and brings back happy memories. Companies like Cuddle Clones can actually take a photo of a pet and turn it into an identical stuffed animal.
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Find Magazines With Their Interests
Find old magazines with their favorite activities to give them a sense of purpose. Reading the magazine, looking at pictures, and even holding it can bring back fond memories. Or you can even put together collages by having them safely cut or rip out their favorite images and using a glue stick to paste them together. This can be a very stimulating mental and physical therapy activity to do together!
Simple And Fun Activities
Sometimes, simple but fun activities can offer great results. Not only are they familiar to your loved one and relatively easy to follow, but they can help your loved one to feel productive.
Why not try the following?
Jigsaw puzzles as dementia progresses, fewer pieces will be necessary
Old board games, such as snakes and ladders, and scrabble
Have an afternoon picnic or tea party
Untying knots this gets their hands working and requires a surprising amount of focus
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Senior Services Of America Offers Resident
Whether you are currently looking for memory care for a loved one or are preparing for the future, Senior Services of America is ready to assist you.
Our senior living facilities range from independent living communities to memory care facilities. Our goal is to support you and your loved ones unique needs in any way we can.
Senior Services of America is here to be part of your care team in your loved ones journey. Find your nearest community to see how we can assist you with navigating this important part of life.